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Debriefing: care and sympathy are not enough

Alexander C McFarlane
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (11): 533-534.
Published online: 2 June 2003

In this issue of the Journal, Priest and colleagues report a further study showing the lack of effectiveness of "debriefing" after a traumatic event in preventing psychological disorders — in this case, in women after childbirth.1 Their use of debriefing for this purpose indicates how widely the enthusiasm for this intervention has spread in the past decade. On superficial examination, early interventions are an appealing and inexpensive approach to dealing with events that can be followed by predictable psychiatric morbidity.2 This negative study adds to the now substantial evidence that psychological debriefing has no value in prevention.3,4

  • Alexander C McFarlane

  • Department of Psychiatry, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University of Adelaide, Woodville, SA.

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